A new state-of-the-art athletic center for Palo Alto High School -- to break ground next May or June will sit in the footprint of the school's two existing gyms and architecturally echo Paly's historic Tower Building.
The new complex -- two gyms connected by an enclosed loggia, or hallway -- will wrap around three sides of the existing swimming pool. The pool itself will not be disturbed.
Board of Education members Tuesday were enthusiastic as architect Jeremiah Tolbert walked them through "schematic designs" for the complex, which is to be funded largely by the Peery family of Palo Alto, which has sent three generations to Paly.
The new athletic facility should be ready for use for the fall of 2015, officials said, because of expedited construction under a "lease-leaseback" delivery method with Palo Alto contractor Vance Brown, who recently built a similar facility at Menlo School.
The new main gym will have a "Hall of Fame" corridor, a covered entry and large lobby with a ticket booth, concession stand and athletic store, a new large training room and space for visiting coaches, with a sunken main gym floor.
Team locker rooms will be directly off the main gym floor.
The hallway connecting the two gyms will be on the side of the swimming pool closest to Paly's quad.
Drawings of the "small gym" on the other side toward El Camino Real show a large arched window similar to that in Paly's historic Tower Building. In addition to a "small gym" that side will also contain pool locker rooms, a new wrestling/multi-purpose room, and a dance and yoga studio.
On a lower level will be physical education locker rooms, a P.E. classroom, a new larger weight room and storage.
During the year of construction, the 2014-15 school year, athletic and P.E. programs will be run out of portable classrooms on the quad as well as a temporary locker and restroom facility around Paly's wood shop. Officials said they may also erect a covered area near the new concessions building to create space for P.E. on rainy days, and also may use part of the existing student center for dance classes.
In addition, officials said they've contacted Stanford about renting temporary facilities, but will likely keep the Paly pool open because Stanford may not have pool space available.
Tolbert, the architect for the athletic center, said he's kept in close touch with architect Erwin Lee, who is designing many other upgrades to the Paly campus. Among those are a planned addition to the science building, which will look out onto the athletic center.
"Erwin and I talk about materials -- they're going to be compatible -- and we've talked in the midst of design," Tolbert told the board.
"We've talked about having the two complement each other, but they're their own separate structures."
The science addition, to be constructed at the same time as the athletic center, will include four new science labs, a "mini-prep" area, a staff room and renovations to the existing science resource center.
The science addition is part of a major, district-wide construction program covered by the $378 million "Strong Schools" bond past by voters in 2008. At Paly alone, the bond is funding a new, two-story classroom building, a new media arts building and major upgrades to the track and football stadium and the Tower Building.
Additionally, construction will begin soon on a new, 600-seat performing arts center on the Embarcadero Road side of the Paly campus, officials said.